6 Steps to Finding a Job

6 Steps to Finding a Job

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Reflect on what you want

A PhD doesn't automatically mean that you will stay in academia for the rest of your life. In fact, many graduate students wouldn't  be happy staying in academia for the rest of their lives, and are anxious to roll up their sleeves and get a more hands-on job in industry. Reflection is key.  Spend some time  analyzing your strengths and imagining 

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Reflect on what you want

what your ideal job would be like. Then, use your research as a leverage to work towards your ideal position. Your PhD research can be an incredible tool to grow your skills. You can learn new coding languages, delve into more theoretical work, or prepare to transition to industry. Regardless of where you imagine yourself in three to 

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Reflect on what you want

five years from now, just realize that your PhD research gives you many more skills than "just" becoming an independent researcher. All these skills, along with your communication skills and the strong work ethic of graduate school, are additional elements you can later show to a prospective employer as benefits that come with hiring a (maybe overqualified) PhD.

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Present at conferences

Get your face out there, show your work, and meet people. Conferences are a very important way to grow your network,  and the majority of jobs are still found through using your network, rather than simply reacting to a job opening at company X or university Y. Similarly, use conferences to get an overview of what is possible after your PhD. Try to

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Present at conferences

find conferences that combine research from academia with cases from industry and that come with a large exhibition hall. At the exhibition hall, you can learn about companies that might be interested in hiring new employees, even though their primary goal might be to sell their product or services.

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Attend industry events

Again, get active, talk to people, and get your face out there. The benefit of attending industry events and becoming involved is broader than making sure people start to know you. It also helps you to explore what is out there in industry.  You can get to know the different companies and get a feeling for their company culture. Would you "fit in" at 

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Attend industry events

that company? Do their projects look attractive to you to work on? Use your involvement in these events to get a taste of the world out there - sniff around and see what could be suitable for you.

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Personal branding: offline and online

Personal branding is a fashionable term, and you might think that it is only for designers and the flashy men and women from the advertisement industry.  In academia, we can rethink branding as having a clear statement on who we are and what we are good at. It's about having a consistent image of ourselves—online and offline—

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Personal branding: offline and online

and carrying that out into the world. It's not about pretending you're someone else, it's not about compromising on authenticity, and it's not about vanity or praising yourself either. It's simply about your very professional essence and being okay with sharing that image with the world. Once you have completed Step 1, and reflected on what your 

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Personal branding: offline and online

strengths are, and how you envision yourself in the future, you can use this information to show the world how you can help in situation Y because you are very good at doing Z. You can get active (Steps 2 and 3) in international organizations by volunteering to do something you are good at.  You can build a digital footprint by using a blog or social 

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Personal branding: offline and online

networks to share what you've learned in your research, connect to like-minded people, and make your professional image and statements Google-able.

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Cherish your network

Don't build a network just for the sake of having contacts with certain people for whenever you need a job.  Cherishing your network is about getting back in touch with people every now and then, about keeping good ties to your former classmates and rekindling the connection with professors from previous institutions because you are 

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Cherish your network

grateful for the people who helped you learn and grow over the years. And from these contacts, people who you truly enjoy being around, fruitful collaborations can grow. You can imagine that it can be very rewarding to be able to work later on with people with whom you have a very good relationship.

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Let people know you will be available

Once you are nearing your final semesters, or your thesis starts to grow steadily towards it first draft version, don't get too secretive about it. It can be hard to really tell people that you think you will be finished six months from now, if all goes well, as that might add pressure, but trust yourself.  Something can always go wrong, but there's no need to 

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Let people know you will be available

live life assuming all possible doom scenarios. Share the message that you are wrapping up your work. Write to people in your network to let them know when you will be defending, invite them for the day itself or send them a copy of your dissertation.  Share  how your progress is going on your online networks. Share on LinkedIn that you 

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Let people know you will be available

have a few more weeks to finish your first dissertation draft. Share your updates on Twitter - get the word out that you are coming out soon! You might get some reactions completely out of the blue from people asking you if you're interested in learning about possibilities at their firm.

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